There are so many great enduro mountain bikes on the market right now. Singletracks recently shared a list of our readers’ favorite enduro bikes, so I took it upon myself to do some field verification testing to see if you, our readers, truly know what the crap you’re talking about. We published the list of top enduro bikes on Monday, and by that Thursday I was on the ground at Fall Cyclofest, testing five enduro bikes in just 24 hours.
The US Whitewater Center trail system in Charlotte is expansive, boasting more than 30 miles of singletrack, rated from beginner-friendly to expert-level. Sliced by tributaries feeding down into the Catawba river, the terrain is steep in places, though none of the climbs or descents are very long. Still, there are plenty of “bursts of enduro” to be found, and I managed to average about 100 feet of elevation gain (and loss) per mile. To put that number into context, a ride at Jake Mountain in North Georgia averages about the same amount of climbing per mile, while a truly big mountain ride like Mountaintown yields 135 feet of climbing per mile.
For four out of five of my test rides I rode roughly the same 3-mile loop, which included two “black diamond” trails: the Carpet Trail and Tower 93. Truthfully, neither of these trails offer much in the way of session-worthy technical challenges. At the same time, all the trees, berms, rollers, kickers, rocks, and roots demand skill and finesse to ride at speed. As the rider’s speed increases, so does the challenge, just like in enduro racing.
For me, the other interesting thing about testing enduro bikes at the US National Whitewater Center is that these trails are pretty similar to the trails I ride on a regular basis. These are after-work trails, the type of trails where many a mile is ridden between trips to more epic, big-mountain destinations. Sure, enduro bikes are ideal for places like Colorado and Pisgah, but they’re overkill for most riders’ local trails, right? The answer I found surprised me.
I’ve ranked these bikes based on my back-to-back tests, starting with my least favorite. However, let me preface this by saying even my least favorite is a great bike, and I truly enjoyed riding every one of these enduro bikes. Read on to find out what I thought about each of these 5 excellent bikes!